Firstly, happy December. Also, thank God it’s Monday again and, as such, happy Monday to everyone. I personally look forward to all Mondays. They’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!
We’ve entered the final month of 2023. November seemed to come and go, in the blink of an eye. December usually follows suit, especially with all the many holiday celebrations going on throughout the month. As the old adage says, “time flies when you’re having fun.”
The first week of December always celebrates National Cookie Cutter Week AND today happens to be National Cookie Day, too. Cookies are wonderful! They are among many Americans’ top 10 favorite food choice lists. There are so many different types – “more than Carter has pills”, as the old adage says.
Some versions of cookies are called “breads”, “biscuits”, “bars”, or “squares”. Some cookies are “baked” in the oven, while others (called “no-bakes”) are “set” in the refrigerator or freezer. Cookies can be hard and crispy or soft and chewy. Some cookies are plain or coated in frosting, sugar, cinnamon, or the like.
They use an array of ingredients including, but not limited to butter, eggs, oil, peanut butter, various sugars, flours, oats, spices, and cocoas/chocolates. Many optional additions include coconut, peanuts, various nuts, candies, baking chips, raisins and dried fruits.
Mom created a wonderful, copycat version for Mrs. Field’s cookies many decades ago. That’s the recipe (pictured above, which I shared five years ago) that I chose to make for my own cookie exchange – as printed on her “Free Recipes & Ordering Information” sheets (from 2000), under the name “Mrs. Meadows”.
One of my earliest memories, from when I first started going to school, was of being afraid that no one would like me and that I wouldn’t have any friends. Mom gave me a lunch sack full of cookies to share, saying, “the quickest way to their hearts is through their stomachs.” I may be biased but I always thought Mom made the best cookies.
Mom said that if I shared the cookies with the other kids, I would undoubtedly make friends and it worked! In later years, when I became a mother, my own children struggled to make friends, as well. I did the same for them as Mom did for me and it still worked just as well to help them “break the ice” and make new friends, too!
There’s no doubt that cookies make people feel good. They are often used as a reward for children, as well as for adults, when doing good deeds, using good manners, and various other things. Cookies can put a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day like nothing else can.
Maybe the reason that Santa is so jolly is because of all the wonderful cookies he gets on Christmas Eve. Cookies make us smile. They make a bad day better. Mom said that cookies even “take the ‘bite’ out of a scraped knee and the ‘owie’ out of a bump on the head”.
There was a time when my youngest child was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. She was withdrawn and anti-social. She rarely smiled or showed any kind of emotion. But Mom could always pull her out of her shell, at least somewhat, with cookies! They were one of the few things that made her genuinely smile and even engage in a little conversation.
The following is Mom’s 1982 composition, on the subject of “Cookies and Candies”, as she originally wrote for that particular chapter in her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (May 1982, 1st Edition), which is the cookbook (using the 3rd Edition, though) that I helped her to rewrite for a new digital generation.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 214). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
COOKIES AND CANDIES
COOKIES AND CANDIES really bring out the little child within us all. There is something almost rewarding about simple confections that the food industry has also been able to capitalize on the products of this division with great marketing success.
The first bakery marketing efforts, in the American frontier days, included delicacies of French origin, Danish breads and cakes, Austrian strudel and pies of truly colonial persuasion.
The candies, which were originally for special religious observances, have been taken into the fold of a prospering industry and have continued, despite repercussions of the critics, skepticism of sugar and artificial sweeteners, to please the public…
…When I compiled my favorite cookie and candy recipes for this section, I was really torn between what to keep and what to leave out. I wanted to share with you every single wonderful memory of a pleasing product, you could hopefully imitate in your own kitchen, as a compliment to the original…
…In cookie-baking, the spirit of ‘reward’ is still there, as it was when we were youngsters, and remains a tradition – we will always find a place and a reason for having a cookie jar in the kitchen…
…Years ago, when our 5 children were still in the sandbox set, holding tricycle symposiums in my flowerbeds and declaring our yard a national park for every child in the township, I had this ridiculous maternal notion that a cookie could cure countless conditions. So, I was wrong!
Cookies did not remedy a Barbie doll with a missing string in her back or a G.I. Joe without a backpack in the ‘complete accessory kit’, as promised in the catalog. But special cookies from a warm and sunny, semi-cluttered kitchen, did take the ‘bite’ out of a scraped knee and the ‘owie’ out of a bump on the head…
…Even though it wouldn’t bring the pet turtle back to life, a cookie and a kiss from Mom made the world seem a little bit brighter. I doubt that things have changed very much with mothers and their children since my own grew up… Even now…they all check the cookie jar with the same delight as they expressed when they were youngsters.
Cookie exchanges are just one of the many December holiday traditions in which numerous people still participate – but, like other traditions, those numbers are dwindling. I wrote a blog post about five years ago, Making Memories With a Christmas Cookie Exchange, regarding hosting a cookie exchange party.
It had its flaws but, for the most part, it went well. I had the best of intentions to host another one but I never made the time to make it a new tradition. The same can be said for a lot of things these days.
Speaking of holiday traditions (and making someone smile), this Saturday is Christmas Card Day. Recently, one of my local news programs, aired a story about how many traditions are going to the wayside, including mailing out Christmas cards. It seems that the younger generations continuously want to do away with our old traditions and create new ones.
I used to send out Christmas cards from me and my husband, by mail, every Black Friday. There were so many dozens of cards and the list of recipients grew every year, as did our family and circle of friends. It was just one of the countless traditions I picked up from my parents and grandparents. Now we hand many out to the people we see (or can see).
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 3)
SENDING CHRISTMAS CARDS has always been a favorite tradition in our house. In 28 years, we’ve only sent store-bought cards twice. Every Christmas, other than that, we’ve made our cards. That was the one important tradition we followed – and still do…
What usually happened was that we had every good intention of confining our list to those who really were important to us [and] who we rarely saw during the rest of the year… I like to put newsy little notes inside that would bring old friends up to date with what we had been doing since we sent them our last Christmas card.
…I am one of those annoying sentimentalists who will, too, read every word of the long, newsy Christmas letters and the page-by-page accounts of how our friends have been doing since the last Christmas.
I don’t know if fewer cards are being sent at Christmas since postage became so expensive – or if we simply don’t know that many people. The tradition, however, seems to be fading…
Mom wrote that last excerpt in 1983. Forty years later, people are still commenting, similarly, about how those same traditions still seem to be going out of style. But are they really – or are a lot of them just evolving like everything else, in life? Michigan is number one, in Christmas tree sales; thus, the tradition of getting a real tree for Christmas endures, here.
Christmas cards are still being sent. However, more are sent electronically, now, instead of hard copies that are handed out and/or mailed through the post office – what the younger generation nicknamed “snail mail”. And homemade cookies continue to be terrific gifts, putting a big smile on every receiver’s face. Plus, they’re still great, for making new friends!
In honor of National Cookie Cutter Week AND today, being National Cookie Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Greenfield Village Cookies”; as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 13).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
December observes, among other things… National Pear Month, National Write A Business Plan Month, Operation Santa Paws (which runs the 1st-24th), Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!
December 5th is… National Sacher Torte Day!
December 7th is… National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, National Illinois Day, and National Cotton Candy Day! Today is also when Hanukkah/Chanukah Begins – which changes annually (December 7th-15th for 2023)!
December 9th is… National Pastry Day!
…49 down and only 3 more to go!